Big Thunder

Today Jessica, Shaina, and I went to Disneyland. Strangely, walking around Disneyland brought back more memories then anything else from this trip home. I thought about elementary school and middle school, about Outdoor Ed and the science class trip to Florida, about Kevin and Kenny and Samantha and Magic cards and the Fullerton College theater program.

See, back in middle school I had a Disneyland annual pass, and after school and on weekends I would go there with friends. We became Disneyland experts and knew all the ins and outs of the park, which rides would have the shortest waits at which times, which drinking fountains were coldest, where to spot the hidden Mickeys, etc. Disneyland was an important part of my life, as strange as that probably sounds. And I like to visit it from time to time, to see what has changed and what has stayed the same.

So we went on the old favorites — Jungle Cruise, Indianna Jones, Pirates of the Caribbean, Haunted Mansion, but I wasn’t getting incredibly into it. Saw the Snow White show (*yawn*), went on the Matterhorn and then Star Tours, which I insist on going on every time I’m at the park, and ate at Pizza Port by the poor dark Space Mountain (reopening in 2005).

You may recall that on September 5, 2003, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad derailed and killed a local man. The ride reopened in March of this year but had to be closed again after a July 8th derailment that sent three Canadians to the hospital. Today Cal-OSHA publically released their report about the accident and detailing various requirements for improving safety.

When we went by Big Thunder today I noticed seven cast members guarding the entrance and exit, and then pointed out two helicopters hovering around Disneyland, which is odd since the area above the park is restricted airspace and you generally don’t see any aircraft around. I asked the woman at the info booth about the ride and she informed us that they were reopening the attraction today with a soft-launch, and that local news media had found out and were causing trouble. While I was initially unreceptive to her recommendation that we go back on the ride, Jessica ended up convincing me, and we took a spin.

A cast member named Andrea told me that she had ridden Big Thunder three times today and was still alive, so I should be fine. I joked with her a bit, and she ended up giving me the backmost car, which she said is the best seat. Well, the ride was really wonderful, more fun then I remembered, and I seem to have survived it without losing any limbs or higher brain functions, so I guess all is well.

After Big Thunder we walked over to Main Street and sat down to watch the fireworks show. If you know me well you know that I’m completely nuts for fireworks and find them wonderful and beautiful and uplifting and amazing. Well, the Disney fireworks show is what a fireworks show should be. It didn’t have the best fireworks I’ve seen, it didn’t have the best music I’ve seen, but it did have the best production I’ve seen. Their music was well mixed and incredibly well synchronized with the fireworks. They hit the notes perfectly — with every swell of chords fireworks lit up the sky.

I have fun at the fireworks shows Student Events puts on at Brandeis, but they always play the same crappy music which is not synced at all with the show, and it’s annoying and distracting. Disney knows how to do it right.

The fireworks capped off a wonderful evening, and we decided to call it a night. And I decided that, after graduation, I want to go to Disneyworld.

2 replies on “Big Thunder”

  1. Disneyland just isn’t the same without Space Mountain 🙁 I’m glad somebody else besides me likes Star Tours, though. It seems I have to battle with whoever I go with to go on that ride =[

    Big Thunder Mountain has always been one of my favorite rides ever [e.g., not just at Disneyland]. It’s not the biggest/fastest/most revolutionary roller coaster, nor was it my first coaster or whatnot. It’s just something special.

    And speaking of something special, you’re right – Disney can do fireworks like no one else. It was really special when they used to do that Fantasia show where they projected images onto jets of water spraying from the pond, and then the music would segue into the fireworks show – simply amazing.

  2. Wow, I love Disney. I’ve never been to Disneyland, but Disney World is amazing and I’m sure they’re similar. I think my favourite ride is the monorail. It’s really cool and there’s like no wait. I really liked Space Mountain too. I can’t believe they’d get rid of it. I remember Spaceship Earth. That was one of the coolest rides ever. OK, it’s official: I’m a geek. I went on it with my father for the first time. My father hates fast rides, but he thought he’d like this one because it wasn’t supposed to be one of those types of rides. When the little cars turned around so you could see the stars, my father freaked thinking that it was about to go into a rollercoaster-like mode.

    Oh, now you’ve got me being all sentimental. I wish I had an annual pass when I was growing up (and lived close enough to use it). Those must have been terribly dear, though. Disney might be the happiest place on earth, but it sure isn’t the cheapest.

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